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Alistair Overeem Aims to Win Tourney, Unify Belts and Become World No. 1

Alistair Overeem is already the Strikeforce and DREAM heavyweight champion, but that's not nearly enough for the hulking, 31-year-old Dutch star.

Nearly done preparing for his biggest opportunity on U.S. soil, Overeem admitted on Tuesday that he has major hopes for 2011, including winning the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, unifying the Strikeforce and UFC belts, and becoming the undisputed top-ranked fighter in his weight class.

Overeem, who will be facing Brazilian Fabricio Werdum on June 18 in Dallas, said it's one thing at a time, but the big picture also remains in focus.

"Actually, I see this Grand Prix as an opportunity to show to fans in the U.S. and all over the world that I'm the No. 1 fighter," he said. "And No. 1 doesn't come by beating no-names. You have to beat the names. This tournament holds big names, all sorts of names. Every fighter in the tournament is good, and experienced. You've got to beat the best to become the best."

He will have to start with a man who holds a win over him. Over five years ago, in May 2006, he faced Werdum in the first round of PRIDE's Open Weight Grand Prix tournament. Overeem, who was still fighting as a light-heavyweight at the time, lost in the second round after submitting to a kimura. It was the first of five losses in a seven-fight stretch.

Those struggles, of course, could not have foretold the "Ubereem" wrecking machine that was just around the corner. After ending that rough period of losses, Overeem hasn't tasted defeat, going unbeaten over his last 10 fights.

That, along with his rapidly increasing kickboxing skills, has given rise to the belief of some that Overeem is the best heavyweight in the world. Given the recent announcement that Strikeforce's Nick Diaz will come over to the UFC to challenge welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre, it seems more likely than ever that whoever emerges from the Strikeforce Grand Prix will one day face the UFC champ. Overeem says it's an idea he hasn't given much mind to, but acknowledged such a fight might be demanded by fans.

"There might be crossover fights but for the time being, it's not on my schedule," he said. "If I win the tournament, I personally, and I believe many fans, would love to see the winner of the tournament vs. UFC champion Cain Velasquez."

Further, Overeem says that his plan is indeed to unify the belt as he continues to increase his presence in the U.S. market. There's just one roadblock in the way, the same one that stopped him in his tracks once before.

Given the time since then, the hard work he's put in, and his confidence level, Overeem's confident he'll get his revenge, and then move on to bigger and better opportunities.

"The fight will be different than last time," he said. "You're going to see the aggressive Overeem. I'll be looking for a KO from the opening seconds. Fabricio is a different fighter, but I'm definitely a different fighter. He's been training, preparing for my arsenal. I believe he's confident. I'm confident. We'll see how it plays out."